BRAINWORK: Back To The Roots II (2019)
Updated: Aug 27, 2019
“Back To The Roots II is a monument of Berliner minimalist rhythms which gathers the greatest elements of the Berlin School and New Berlin School styles”
1 ...there be Sound 18:56 2 Rollover 14:28 3 Silver Rain 23:12 4 Raw Data 9:03
(Sequencer-based Berlin School)
Uwe Saher likes to stir up the ashes of the past, if only to see how his vision is today compared to yesterday. We have only to think of Back to Future II in 2017, which was comparable to that of 2003. The report was uneven due to the very great evolution of EM equipment and the contemporary tone which is much more incisive today than 'at the time. And it was especially evident in a dance music approach that has become EDM nowadays. Released in 1993, Back To The Roots was an album inspired by Robert Schroeder's electronic rhythm patterns. This is at least according to the samples I heard at the time (I do not have this album unfortunately). BACK TO THE ROOTS II obviously has a more contemporary sound with a clear precision between recorded and mixed tracks. The result is a relentless album, of an incredible rhythmic violence with stunning structures of percussive elements which get add to some motorik sequences and percussions well in the tone where the synth solos are as kings as the diversity of the rhythmic elements. And the adventure begins sharply! With sudden winds and without preambles which whistle with acidity in the tones. A celestial patch of fog recalls that Klaus Schulze, like in Body Love, is not really far in the memories of Brainwork. The sequencer emerges from the banks of fog to forge a jerky rhythm by the vitality of the keys which run at brisk pace in a long linear corridor. A tasty bass line, ubiquitous and with good reason throughout BACK TO THE ROOTS II, gives more vitality to ... there be Sound. The synth solos caress this rhythm with aerial acrobatics that graze the dynamism of the sequencer. An orgy of solos flies and dances all over while the rhythm blows subtle nuances in its elegance Berliner style. Heavy, lively and fluid, this contagious rhythm throws percussive elements and harmonic sequences which constantly give gas to the synth and to its innumerable solos. It stumbles on a nest of sequences and percussive elements around the 8 minutes, forcing us to screw our headphones well enough over our ears. A big voice pushes Let there be sound and adds words that fit in place of the 3 points of suspension of ... there be Sound, while the solos become even more furious. This is some huge New Berlin School which drops a little ballast to its final. Rollover is an aggressive rock which delicately changes of skin, while retaining its first one firmly with some speed changes in its rhythm. A catchy rhythm with striking percussions, a bass line that is as much with its vision of going up and going down and a pack of spasmodic sequences which hits another nest, around the 7th minute, causing thus an intense jostling of jumping keys that are struggling like lifeless marbles on a conveyor belt. This structure ends up by embracing a homogeneous and harmonic phase while serving the cause to the innumerable solos of a synth which flirts with some Tangerine Dream perfumes, especially at the level of riffs and fog pads, and which gives a lot of depth to the 14 minutes of Rollover.
Silver Rain is the cornerstone of BACK TO THE ROOTS II. Shot of thunder and fascinating aesthetic singing furnish an intro that needs a veil of fog to advance on the long path of its 23 minutes. A movement of the sequencer pushes its keys which also hesitate under a plethora of sibilant lines that come and go with menacing airs. A line of bass sequences adds a little more weight, while the rhythm structure is already planned and now jumps more vigorously. Brainwork pushes his synths to the maximum in order that they create a lot of effects, both here and in the other 3 titles of latest opus. The rhythm gallops slowly, we are able to roll of the neck while our ears enjoy this avalanche of jets of a synth as enigmatic as seductive. Slowly, Silver Rain swallows its minutes with scents of Klaus Schulze. It's at the door of the 6 minutes that the spirit wins the rhythm that makes us now stamp our feet. The placid percussions restructure the ambient movement into a solid linear rock where these winds and synth lines are still colored with the motley colors of nebulosity. Solos get grafted. Floating and dancing on this rhythm, they preconize a melodious approach which clings to our ear lobes. Minimalist and lively, the robotic rhythm strikes a first reef of charms a little after the point of 10 minutes with a seductive, and the word is weak, pattern of percussive effects which dance the clappers with hooves of wood. Gurgling sequences with an elastic effect hang onto to this rhythmic structure that flirts with a vision of organic psybient. The rhythm bustling of its multilayers of percussive sequences, Silver Rain falls into a chasm full of chthonic voices and of dark layers. Orchestrations get in and the slow staccatos serve as a spring to this structure of frenzied rhythm that takes back its rights a few minutes later in an attack of our eardrums that even the synth can not appease. A superb title all in rhythm! Are we entitled to a quieter title to finish? Not at all! Raw Data perfectly mixes the New Berlin School genre from BACK TO THE ROOTS II to a more dance style, less techno, than the music of Brainwork's alter-ego, Element 4. The sequences and the hands' slamming are structuring a spasmodic pattern which stretches its convulsions under a misty sky and more electronic effects at the very end.
BACK TO THE ROOTS II is a monument of the Berliner rhythms which gathers the good elements of the genre, I think of Robert Schroeder and especially of Keller & Schönwälder, in a superb album that makes our eardrums work so much the rhythms are heavy but also very creative. Fans of synth solos will be delighted by the audacity of Brainwork who illuminates the electronic sky of sonic acrobatics very well choreographed. A huge album my friends!
Sylvain Lupari (March 30th, 2019) *****
Available at Brainwork's webshop and Cue-Records